Do Scientists Lose Credibility When They Become Political?

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

In 1933, after speaking out against the rise of fascism in Germany, Albert Einstein was chastised by the Prussian Academy of Sciences, from which he had pre-emptively resigned. His fellow physicist Max von Laue spoke out in his defense, but also cautioned that academics should separate themselves from politics. “Here, they are making nearly all German academics responsible when you do something political,” he wrote to his friend. Einstein responded:

“I do not share your view that the scientist should observe silence in political matters, i.e. human affairs in the broadest sense. The situation in Germany shows whither this restraint will lead: to the surrender of leadership, without any resistance, to those who are blind or irresponsible.”

Eighty-three years later,